Make Time for Meal Prep
“I don’t have time…how about take out?”
A phase I hear my clients admitting all too often. But who doesn’t appreciate a warm homemade meal prepared from scratch?! In this day and age, people are busier than ever and the effortless solution is take out/delivery. =( The typical family now has two full time workers and the number of the stay-at-home parents are dwindling. Since the 1960’s the amount of time allocated to cooking has gone down by half but people still love reading about food, watching cooking shows, and are fascinated by the emotions that food can evoke. Even with all the reasons not to meal prep, my challenge to readers is to commit 1 hour of your time over the weekend. I promise that your investment in time will pay dividends in the form of healthier food, saving money, development of basic cooking skills and peace of mind knowing you have a delicious and nutrition option after a long day at the office.
One solution to the meal prep madness is to add a single step between shopping and putting the groceries away. Instead of tossing the veggies into the crisper drawer, grab a big bowl of water and wash/prep them all at once. Save all the un-edible bits /compost (like the ends of celery, onions, or carrot greens) to make a vegetable broth for the week. Once you have all of your food prepared and laid out, here’s where the fun begins.
- Marinate your proteins ahead of time
Grab a couple zip lock freezer bags or large glassware to start brining or marinating your favorite proteins. My favorite options are a pickle juice brine or curry powder (baked chicken strips pickle or curry flavor or make some coconut curry chicken in a pinch).
2. The slow cooker/pressure cooker/Instapot
These cooking tools are great ways to reduce the amount of cook time for broth, stews, chili, or braising meats. These cooking methods allow you to put in many ingredients and seasonings into one large pot that will leave you with a delicious home cooked meal for the family. The slow cooker should be prepared the night before or in the morning while the pressure cooker can take meats that need 4–6 hours of braising to fork tender in under an hour.
3. Prepare your salads and smoothies
You’ve seen them all over Pinterest and IG. Grab a set of mason jars or re-usable glassware to put together all the dry ingredients of a salad or smoothie together. That way you can wake up and make a smoothie and grab the salad before heading out the door. Keep some home-made dressing in the office and you’re all set! (My go to smoothie includes spinach, berries or 1/2 banana, coconut milk, chia seeds, protein powder, and water)
4. Kids save the day
This may sound crazy, but getting the kids involved is a great way to get more done. It’s been proven that welcoming kids in the kitchen both saves times and more importantly, sets up healthy eating habits for them in the future. Kids will make a few mistakes, but they will be much more open to trying new foods if they are hands on with it. Tasks such a washing, prepping produce, stirring, and clean up are all simple tasks the kids can help with.
5. Veggies made simple
Roast a whole tray of veggies so you can have for a few days or toss them into your broth when you get home for veggies in a pinch. Don’t be afraid of canned or frozen vegetables. They are a great secondary option, especially if you’re worried about the fresh ones going bad.
It may take a little time to get comfortable with this process, but once you’ve turned the meal prep into a post grocery trip habit, it becomes second nature. On top of it all, meal prep can be extremely meditative. You wouldn’t believe how relaxing it is to slice/marinate/slow cook on a Sunday afternoon with your favorite beats in the background.
Lastly, if things don’t work out (there will definitely be a time when things don’t), eating out isn’t the worst option. My advice is to make sure eating out isn’t an excuse to eat something unhealthy. You can still eat clean when eating out by making the right choices and staying mindful about your goals!
Get out there and meal prep your way! Thanks for reading and continue running fast, lifting heavy, and eating clean all!